Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

My Favorite Things-2006

Dear Author

REVIEW: Honor’s Splendor by Julie Garwood

Dear Ms. Garwood:

Honors SplendorI want you to know that I open myself up to ridicule from any number of blogland sources such as my blogging partners, Jayne and Janine, Keishon, Maili, and who knows else by writing this love letter to you. Alas, I cannot let this week of thankfulness pass by without referencing at least one of your books that I have read so much that is poor cover fell off. So I am hiding this review on Thanksgiving where I can be quietly be thankful for this book whilst the rest of the US blogland is sleepy from gorging on turkey and mashed potatoes. (As an aside, the Thanksgiving episode where Jerry plays with the mint boxed Superman whilst girlfriend is drugged upon Trytophan is hilarious).

This was one of the first of your books that I had ever read and the opening scene is unforgettable.

They meant to kill him.

Baron Duncan of Wexton land is standing naked, tied to the pole in the bitter winter. Even at his seemingly weakest moment, his enemies still fear him. They stand a weapon’s length away to spit at his feet and mock him. Duncan is unafraid. He acknowledges he may lose his feet to frostbite but even as he stands there, his men are climbing the walls so that they can carry out the plan against Baron Loudden.

Madelyne, Loudden’s half sister, is watching this. Madelyne is a gentle soul. She cannot allow this atrocity of Loudden’s to be executed. She creeps out and frees Duncan and then performs an incredibly selfless act. This action forever changes the dynamic between Duncan and Madelyne. Duncan has come for Madelyne to revenge Loudden’s defilement of Duncan’s sister. “An eye for an eye” Duncan says to Madelyne.

Madelyne understands but tells Duncan that it is of no use. Loudden has no respect or love for her as Duncan and his siblings have for their sister. Loudden will not understand this act as Duncan intends. Duncan believes that Madelyne is just trying to get him to leave her there and totally ignores the family dynamic that Madelye is trying to explain. What we readers come to understand early on is that Loudden’s feelings for Madelyne are quite unnatural and that he will pursue Madelyne.

Madelyne was sorely abused by her family, other than the family priest. She has little self worth. Duncan sweeps Madelyne off to the Wexton land where Madelyne gains a true family even though she has to fight through bitterness and hatred directed toward her by Duncan’s family. In true Garwood fashion, Madelyne wins over everyone with her kindness and her ineptness. She’s so loveable even Duncan’s fierce stallion falls for her in a hilarious scene. Your characteristic gentle humor is sprinkled throughout the story. Every trite and hackneyed plot device and characterization seems to be included in this book: heroine gets illness, reveals terrible mistreatment during fevers; loves small animals; is kind to the servants; gentles the fiercest of men. But you know, it wasn’t hackneyed when I first read it and despite the familiar conventions, I still enjoy this book on re-reads. Thanks for writing gentle love stories with good humor and lots of passion.

Best regards


Dear Author

REVIEW: Of Paupers and Peers by Sheri Cobb South

Dear Mrs. Cobb South,

I’ve been a fan of yours since “The Weaver Takes a Wife” and was delighted to hear that a new book was coming out. I can now happily say that “Of Paupers and Peers” will take its place beside my other Cobb South keepers. I just wish that 1) it was a lot cheaper so more people might buy it and enjoy it and 2) your books were available as ebooks. Any chance of that?

James Weatherly’s greatest hopes in life were to win the hand of the Peerless Miss Prescott and to aspire to the living in the small village of Fairford. When Miss Prescott laughed at his proposal, he lowered his sights to earning his keep as a Latin tutor and vicar. It was then that Fate, in the form of an unbroken male descent from the disinherited second son who ran off with a milkmaid, changed his life. James suddenly finds himself a wealthy Duke traveling to his vast Surrey estate when Fate hits him over the head again, only this time literally. Beset by two robbing ruffians, he’s lying in the middle of a dusty road when Miss Margaret Darrington appears and pronounces that he must be the new tutor she’s engaged to teach her 14 year old brother. James is horrified when he discovers he’s lost his memory and with nothing to contradict Margaret’s assumptions, he soon takes his place in her family house and begins to fall in love with her. When his memory finally returns, James, mindful of his first rejected proposal, decides to woo Margaret as a lowly tutor instead of revealing his true identity. But things don’t turn out as anyone expects on the road to true love.

Thank you for turning standard trad Romance traditions on their heads. Those of us who have read tons of ton books will recognize them and delight when you veer around heroes who don’t need buckram padding to fill out their Weston coats or head off most of the Big Misunderstandings we’ve come to accept as inevitable. And the fact that you manage this without either making your characters act too modern or jump into bed with no fear of the consequences is that much better. This is a wonderful book and a strong B+ recommendation.